Expect Manchester United to bring back Fred and McTominay against Villa
Manchester United’s New Year’s Day match against Aston Villa will be a competitive one.
Villa have enjoyed a very strong season so far, and instead of battling relegation like last season, they are duking it out at the top end of the table.
Heading into this game, Villa are just four points behind United, with a game in hand.
Nobody will give Villa much chance of maintaining this form, but that will be just the way they like it. They will head to Old Trafford confident they can get a point like last season, or better.
United have been rotating the squad through the festive period and this is game in which Fred and Scott McTominay are likely to start.
McFred to return
Fred is a player who rarely gets a rest. But United have sought to conserve his energy through December and use the big squad at our disposal.
Scott McTominay also sat out the Wolves game, only coming on in injury time after the winner, and both he and Fred are fit and likely to start.
Villa are a side who work hard and pose a real midfield test. John McGinn is an excellent all round midfielder who complements Douglas Luiz well. Jack Grealish’s ability is well known at this point.
McTominay and Fred have the right combination of energy and tackling to take the game to Villa and support Bruno Fernandes’ creative abilities.
In his last home game McTominay was excellent, scoring twice against Leeds and also creating three goalscoring chances. United could do with a repeat.
There are other options of course. Nemanja Matic has improved in form over the past couple of games, but Jack Grealish is the type of player who could cause him problems.
Paul Pogba has had a good month, his best this season, but United could rotate him out and use him from the bench, with a view to the City semi-final next Wednesday.
The other option is Donny van de Beek, but he is out of favour at this point. His best chance is if United decide for tactical reasons to play a midfield four.
McTominay and Fred might not be the most eye-catching combination which strikes fear into the opposition, but their record this season and last together has been impressive. The away win in the league against Everton they both started in which United won 3-1 was a particularly standout performance, as was the Leeds win.
In some ways, their selection is a compliment to Villa. Solskjaer has figured out that to win certain games, you need to have high energy and willingness to ‘mix it’. McTominay and Fred both provide exactly that.
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